fun, home life, money, shopping

Tax Refund!

Before we even did our taxes, my husband asked what I wanted to spend our tax refund on. He wanted a new grill, and probably some other things. I, of course, wanted to put it into savings. And probably still will. But it made me daydream about…

An upgraded camera body

A macro lens

A home studio setup

New books to read

A trip to somewhere relax

A camping trip

New tattoos

A fancy, delicious dinner out

A fun evening bowling, snacking, drinking, eating

 

Did you get a tax refund this year?

home life, money

Moving

Moving is tough. After being born and raised in one house, I moved a lot in my 20s. I stayed in each apartment for about a year around Memphis, then moved away to grad school for a year. Then moved back, then traveled, and then moved around a bit more before buying my house. Though it was always hard, I got pretty good at moving. I still have my fingers crossed that I won’t have to move again, or at least for a long time.

Packing. It can be done in so many ways. Often I through clothes, pillows, and linens into garbage bags because you will get them out sooner than most boxed stuff, and you can smush those bags into the cracks between boxes to help with space.

Oh boxes. I used to move with whatever boxes people had left from packages (before everything was delivered from Amazon), or from grocery and liquor stores. The problem with those boxes is that sometimes they were carrying something that is packed differently than your belongings would be, so you start to put together a box and realize It doesn’t have a bottom! 

For that reason alone, I finally bought boxes when I was moving home from grad school. I went to Home Depot and bought a set of ten or so boxes for not-too-much money. A lot of people scoff at buying boxes, but you know what? I packed them and drove them in a U-Haul trailer from DC to Memphis. I moved them into my new home. I kept them in a storage unit for six months. I moved them into a new apartment. And I moved them into my house. There are still some holding things in my attic. I’m not saying they last longer than free boxes, but I’m saying they have earned their worth by lasting so many moves. It was worth the money to know I had the size and number of boxes I needed. If you don’t want to pay for boxes – don’t! It’s not a big deal either way, and I’ve moved with free boxes and moved with bought boxes and it’s all the same.

And it’s never fun.

The best thing about moving, besides getting a new place that you (hopefully!) love, is having the chance to look at all of your stuff. I have always downsized during moves. Whether it’s stuff you forgot you had and don’t need anymore, or you just get tired of packing and decide to get rid of the rest, it’s a great opportunity to get minimalize. Sometimes unpacking is a great time for that, too – when you get to the point that you just can’t look at another box – donate it!

home life, reading

Keepin’ On

Driving Miss Norma is a memoir about a couple who decided to give up a conventional life for a chance to live as nomads. Tim and Ramie lived in an RV and spent months in different locations, making friends, learning to live in diverse environments, and creating the life they wanted to live. As soon as I read about their background, I was hooked. I traveled out of a backpack for 6 months, and dreamed of living in one place for several months before moving on to another place, and so on and so on. “Real” life caught up with me, but I am still brainstorming how I can make a life like this work for me…eventually.

Anyway, Tim and Ramie visit Tim’s parents, Leo and Norma, for their usual visit and see that both parents have deteriorated. Tim and Ramie change their plans to stay awhile and help take care of Leo and Norma. When Leo passes away, Norma knows she can’t stay in that big old house by herself. She is diagnosed with cancer but refuses chemotherapy because it will compromise her quality of life. Tim and Ramie don’t want to give up their lifestyle, but don’t want to put Norma in a nursing home. When they ask her if she would like to travel with them… she says yes.

Tim is astonished because in his memory, his mother is timid and doesn’t take chances. But she has always wanted to travel and see certain places, so Tim and Ramie make an itinerary based on what Norma wants to see. They upgrade their RV so there is room for three adults and a dog, and room for a wheelchair to move. They change their lives without changing their lifestyle, and Norma comes along. Throughout the trip, they see her grow and change and fully live her life.

This book was beautiful. The writing style was very blog-like (because they were also keeping a blog, but still) but the stories told make it worth it. I love the idea of picking up and doing everything you’ve wanted to do, even if society is trying to push you to do chemo/what is expected of you. Keep on keepin’ on! The stories and photos of all the travel spots are amazing, as well as the kindness so many strangers showed. Not only should you read the book, but also keep up with them on Facebook.

home life

It’s All an Experiment

This isn’t actually the beginning. This started years ago, when I lived alone in a cute duplex. I had just started a recycling program at my graphic design job – meaning I put out a box and asked coworkers to dump in their drafts, rejected designs, and old papers. I took this box home every week and loaded up my small personal recycling bin.

At the same time, I started washing my hair with baking soda and vinegar. I bought clothes from thrift stores. I was obsessed with zero waste blogs, and tried to have no more than one small bag of trash each week.

When my graphic design company closed, I decided to majorly downsize instead of start a big job hunt. I put my stuff in storage and traveled for six months. I carried one backpack and my camera bag. It was exhilarating to live such a simple life.

I had to come back to real life, of course. I moved into a 480 square foot apartment and got rid of most of my belongings, both out of necessity (such a small space!) and desire (going from one backpack to a whole “house” was a huge change!). A year later, I moved into a two bedroom house. I didn’t buy much more furniture, so it was still a very minimal space.

Then I met my husband, and he moved in, and we had custody of his son every other weekend, and during summers. Then we had our own son. Things accumulated. I try to purge every so often, donating my stuff and kids’ stuff to a local organization that freely gives things to families in need, but more stuff shows up somehow.

My husband is finally on board with minimizing our lives. It’s a long story, and his to tell; I hope he will – this blog is for the family! I will go into more details with my story as well. I just wanted to get started, or re-started, as the case may be. We are trying to cut down on belongings, trying to stop consuming so much, trying to be more conscious about how and why we spend. We are trying to rely more on ourselves and local artisans and businesses. We are trying to lessen our impact on the world. We are trying – it’s all an experiment.